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HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Harry Wu spent 19 years incarcerated by the Chinese government in the Laogai--the “Bamboo Gulag”--as a political prisoner. In 12 different labor camps Wu was forced to manufacture chemicals, mine coal, build roads, and plant crops. He survived beatings, torture, and starvation, and witnessed the death of many of his fellow prisoners. After his release in 1979, Wu moved to the United States determined to expose the truth about the Laogai - the most extensive forced labor system in the world. He has repeatedly risked his life returning to China to document slavery and human rights abuses.
Wu has testified before various congressional committees, as well as before British, French, German, and Australian parliaments, the European Parliament, and United Nations bodies. He is the author of several books including Laogai – The Chinese Gulag, a theoretical analysis of the Laogai system in Communist China, and the international bestseller Bitter Winds, a powerful account of Wu’s imprisonment and survival that displays extraordinary acts of courage and of unforgettable heroism.
In 1995, Wu was arrested in China, found guilty of “stealing state secrets,” sentenced to 15 years in prison, and was then expelled. Since his release, Wu courageously vowed to continue to expose human rights violations in China. He has continued to travel the world to tell of the abuses the Chinese government inflicts on its own people. In 1996 Wu wrote Troublemaker: One Man’s Crusade Against China’s Cruelty which explains why he willingly returned to a country where he spent 19 years in labor camps and whose dictatorial government wishes only to do away with him.
Wu is currently the executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF), a non-profit organization committed to documenting the Laogai system and exposing other human rights abuses in China such as the death penalty, organ harvesting, and the One Child Policy. He also heads the China Information Center (CIC), an online Chinese-language news and commentary website directed at mainland Chinese readers. Wu has received numerous awards for his activities, including the Hungarian Freedom Fighters Award in 1991, the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award in 1994, the Human Rights Advocate Award of the Harvard Foundation of Harvard University, and the 1996 Geuzen Medal of Honor from the Dutch Foundation for the Geuzen Resistance Movement, as well as other international honors.